Lockdown In AmeriKa? You Betcha!

Perhaps the most chilling movie I’ve seen during the past decade — while the American led, once-termed “Global War on Terror” rages on and on and on, ever-expanding both overseas as well as within the Homeland — was the 2006 movie Children of Men. Its Mexican director, Alfonso Cuaron, has described his dystopian film as the “anti-Blade Runner”.

 The 1982 Ridley Scott directed film, Blade Runner, likewise depicts a dark futuristic scene set in the then barely-imaginable distant future of Los Angeles in 2019. Through stupendous special effects, it depicts, rather inaccurately by the way, fantastical advances of science to include humanoid robots that can fall in love and wax philosophical while “dying”, deep space travel, battling Galactic Empires, and overcrowded urban sprawl not only across the landscape but also up into dark, polluted skies as well.

On the other hand, Children of Men paints a considerably more realistic near future, one that if current trends continue becomes all too feasible and most alarming. The film depicts British citizens, who are subject to constant surveillance, but who also can be locked down behind bars in crowded cages at the capricious will of the national security state.

Over recent weeks global mainstream media, even in corporately-owned outlets within the US, have been filled once again with intolerable images of rampant police violence against nonviolent Occupy Wall Street citizen protestors. Such violence has rarely been seen since the massively turbulant anti-war and civil rights movements fifty years ago.

Fellow blogger John Grant wrote about an early example of New York City police violence in his October 5th essay “Is the United States A Police State?”  Since then police purges, often including violence against the occupants and destruction of their private property, have occurred  at OWS-protest encampments throughout many American cities, both large and small, from Atlanta to Oakland, New York to Portland.  Some commentators contend these  purges were coordinated through the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.

Sherman's March to the Sea

This recent police violence against American citizens, though certainly disturbing, is by no means unique throughout our 235-year history. In addition to the brutal Civil War, which included a “scorched earth” policy during Sherman’s “March to the Sea”, America’s bloody legacy is filled with numerous examples of large-scale police violence. Such violence has often been authorized by politicians supported by the 1% most wealthy citizens against the vast majority of  citizens who comprise the 99%.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were numerous incidents of coordinated police brutality, several resulting in significant deaths and injuries, against striking laborers. The casualties in these bloody confrontations included a number of women and children. This violence, often sanctioned by civic leaders and politicians in support of corporate owners, include the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, the Pullman Strike in 1894, the Lawrence Textile strike in 1912, the Ludlow massacre of 1914, the Steel Strike of 1919, and the Hanapepe massacre of 1924.

Hooverville Burning

In the summer of 1932, federal troops were ordered by President Hoover to augment the DC police force to disband the Bonus Army. Under the command of General Douglas McArthur, the troops and DC police violently disbanded the peaceful veterans and their family members, who were petitioning Congress to provide them with their promised war service bonuses early due to the hard economic times of the Great Depression during the 1930s, another egregious incident of Wall Street failing main street. Some 17,000 WW I veterans and their family members were brutally routed from Hooverville in Anacostia Flats, resulting in several deaths and numerous injuries, not only to veterans but to several wives and children as well. This unmitigated violence no doubt led to Roosevelt defeating Hoover in the 1932 presidential election.

Four dead in Ohio

Student protests against the American War in Vietnam during the 60s and 70s included numerous incidents of massive police violence. Local police forces were sometimes augmented by the National Guard or US Army troops against young citizens. Most notable are the violent confrontations at the Democratic Convention in Chicago during August of 1968, the shooting of student protestors at Kent State in May of 1970 by the Ohio National Guard, and the mass arrests of some 7,000 protestors during the “Stop the Government” protests in Washington, DC on May 1, 1971, while Army helicopters flew overhead and 82nd Airborne troops patroled city streets. Many current members of VFP, then active in Vietnam Veterans Against the War, took part in the Dewey Canyon III veterans protest, throwing their war medals back to the government on the steps of the US Capitol Building, several days before the mass arrests.

Stonewall Police Riot

In addition to anti-war protests, during much of the last half of the 20thCentury American citizens suffered from large-scale incidents of co-ordinated police violence, often sanctioned by community leaders and politicians, during the long struggle for civil rights. The civil rights struggle during the 1960s, led by Martin Luther King, who was later assassinated, was primarily for people of color. Later, during the 1970s, it expanded to include  women and Native Americans. A number of deaths occurred during the Wounded Knee siege in 1973 between federal officers and Sioux Indians in South Dakota.  The struggle granting civil rights for differently-gendered persons began in 1969 with the Stonewall Riots. It has continued through recent history with the ending of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the US Armed Forces and the granting of full marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples.

Recently, however, a number of social commentators have become alarmed by the extreme militarization of local police forces. Even hallmark publications of mainstream America, such as the staid New York Times and Atlantic, have become concerned. In addition, policies regarding the use of federal troops to augment local police forces have virtually rendered the legal precedent of posse commitatus, forbidding the use of federal troops, null and void.

Within Congress, however, an even more ominous development has alarmed civil libertarians and supporters of the now largely defunct Bill of Rights. With only token discussion, during which opponents with mitigating amendments were easily outvoted, the Senate passed with strong bipartisan support the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. This legislation includes vague language that would grant authorities the legal precedent to preventatively detain without legal rights anyone anywhere, including American citizens within the US homeland.

Despite rhetoric that he would veto the bill containing such draconian provisions, it appears that President Obama is now satisfied with amended language he believes softens the potential negative impact upon US citizens. Obama has indicated he will soon sign this onerous legislation. Attorney General Eric Holder says he will issue a Bush-like “signing statement”. Nevertheless, many progressive critics, including the ACLU and the Salon’s Glen Greenwald, are most concerned about how such a law with its nebulous language could be used against American citizens. The language might very well allow for citizens to be preventatively detained indefinitely.

As winter deepens through the holiday season, much of the OWS movement has gone into hibernation. A notable exception was the December 12th large demonstration at the Port of Oakland, during which for several hours the port was totally shut down for business. An Oakland City Council measure to prohibit similar protests that interrupt port business, using whatever lawful tools the police have to prevent future disruptions, failed to come to a City Council vote, giving credence to the Tip O’Neill slogan that all politics is ultimately local. Perhaps, a more effective strategy for progressives, instead of focusing on the presidential of 2012, would be to focus their energies on key local elections.

It remains to be seen what will happen when warmer weather returns in the spring. Will the OWS movement again begin massing in urban centers? Will it grow in numbers and impact throughout the main streets of America once again? If an “American Spring” ensues, and if the 1% wealthy elites perceive that they are seriously threatened by a growing rebellion of the 99%, will more draconian measures than those already put on the books during the past decade gain support both within the Executive Branch and Congress to deal with so-called homegrown terrorism?

There is both historical precedent, as well as the legal infrastructure currently in place to manifest in relatively short order a full tilt boogie Fascist police state under the control of Wall Street and corporate elites. If that occurs, the reality of America’s future as the “land of the free and home of the brave” may substantially differ from what most Americans believe their country stands for. Such beliefs might then be described more accurately as delusional. Instead, AmeriKa may very well come to resemble the horrifying landscape of Children of Men – not exactly what our history books and folklore portray our land as being. Will a second American Revolution then ensue to install a government truly “of the people, by the people, for the people”? Or, will we the people, who comprise the 99%, be locked down in a permanent Fascist police state. Time shall surely tell.

About Thomas Brinson

A peace activist both before and after he returned from duty as a US Army Ordnance Officer in Vietnam, Thomas Brinson landed back home at National Airport in Washington, DC about three hours after Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. This was his “Welcome Home” after a year escorting convoys in a gun jeep throughout the Central Highlands, surviving the Tet Offensive, and serving as Civil Affairs Officer for his battalion.

Comments

  1. Brinson nails it again!!

    • Thomas Brinson says:

      Thanks, Mac . . .

      Wishing as peaceful a holiday as possible for you and yours; give my fondest regards to the folks on Long Island . . .

  2. Peggy Lang says:

    Veit-Nam Vet…I took the oath too.

  3. Jeanentte says:

    It appears the plan is for those who cannot be conned, dumbed down, or beaten into submission, the government will just eliminate all together.

    • Thomas Brinson says:

      Yes, Jeanentte, there was an ominous article in the New York Times this morning about an extremely virulent strain of airbourne Bird Flu developed in Europe that a number of experts said should never have been developed. Of course, there are numerous conspiracy theories about everything from chem trails to genetically moderated foods that could be used to depopulate we the masses . . .

  4. Scott A. Weir says:

    Glad to make your acquaintance — via a BuzzFlash link. This is some of the best informed and most coherent writing I’ve seen on this critical aspect of our current situation. The NDAA and related actions, such as certain approaches to immigration law enforcement and the militarization of local police departments, seem to me to be explicit preparations to avoid a Smedley Butler moment this time around. One has to give fascists credit for eternal optimism — or perhaps just opportunism: Global financial collapse and millions of foreclosed homes is an opportunity to buy up physical assets (the only kind most of us have) on the cheap, and if people object it’s an opportunity to bust heads.

    • Thomas Brinson says:

      Thanks, Scott. Excellent point. I don’t know of any high-ranking officer currently who has the honor or integrity of Smedley Butler — they are too vested in their own place of “honor” and prestige within the elistist crowd. Perhaps if “The Hack”, Col. David H. Hackworth had lived (he died in 2005 of bladder cancer, likely due to Agent Orange) he would speak up with the authority that Smedley Butler had. What stopped the Vietnam War was the GI Resistance movement augmented when then Col. Hackworth spoke out on national television in 1971 telling the truth that the guerrilla war in Vietnam could not be won. I believe he would have had the same assessment of our military operations in the Middle East. One of the cleverest strategies the elites accomplished after Vietnam was to create an “all volunteer” armed forces, and then bust the economy so that what we have today is largely a poverty draft.

  5. Stephen says:

    There is a very important movement taking place in the GOP primary voting all over America. RON PAUL is a totally different kind of candidate from ANY other republican. With a Libertarian and Constitutional platform, he is by far the most progressive candidate in either party. He is the ONLY Peace candidate. He leads in support from the men and women in the US Armed Forces.
    He is now leading in the first caucus in IOWA, and soon to take New Hampshire. His following is dedicated and YOUNG. There has not been a candidate like this since RFK in 1968.
    No candidate has ever faced such an opposition of aligned lying media and propaganda from the bankster elite. Ron Paul is the one the 1% really fears, NOT Obama.
    Anyone who values Liberty should find out more about Ron Paul. He is on course to be our next president, and not a moment too soon.

    • Thomas Brinson says:

      I salute, Stephen, your local actions in support of Ron Paul. However, I have become so jaded that I no longer believe in the electoral system of government we presently have in the US. It is too influenced by big money as supported by the Supreme Court ruling last year. Unless 100 Ron Pauls. or Denis Kuciniches, could simultaneously get elected to Congress, little significant change will occur within our system of “government” to become more in tune with whatever it is “we the people” want.

  6. Bill Warrick says:

    oBOMBa wanted to veto it not because it infringed on The Peoples God-Given Rights but because the law would infringe on HIS RIGHTS AS PRESIDENT to do what HE wants or what HE claims HE already has the power to do.
    Bill

  7. Susan Verry says:

    I just came across your name tonight when I looked at your article on truthout. I enjoyed reading it and then spent some time looking up your web site and your other writings. When I tried to look at your work in progress, the pages would not come up on my computer. In part I am so curious about you because my huband who was born in 1942 is named W. Douglas Uhl. He surved in the Navy during the Viet Nam war and is a member of Veterns for Peace here in Bellingham Washington’ He is a Psychologist and I am a psychiatric social worker. We have run our own clinic since 1983 and work with many veterns and their families. In the 1960′s before I met Doug, I was the living in Seattle and was a New York connection for helping service men get to Vancouver Canada. I grew up in Western New York (Fredonia). I also have a masters in English and have taught in many settings. I have never found any other Uhls except my husbands” relatives. My husband was the first in his family to go to college and got his Psy d when he was 50. I really enjoyed your article about The Spat Upon Vet Revisited, amazing the folks who swear this happened again and again. Lastly my first husband’s brother Fred Verry was killed in Viet Nam in 1968. He was a medic and he stepped on land mine. I shall search for your books as I have enjoyed reading what I’ve found so far very much. I printed many of your articles and I know Doug will enjoy reading them too. Thanks for all you do that is helpful to our brothers and sisters who have lived through the recent wars and now seek peace. Susan Verry and Doug Uhl

  8. Dudley-Claude Leslie-Pringle says:

    War was declared in 211O with the passing of Citizens United and the enemy has since moved rapidly to consolidate it’s advantage with the new National Defense Act. You all know how revolution works, at first it is ignored, then it is ridiculed followed by suppression action and when that leads to blowback from the oppressed … brute force is used … usually by the {militarized} police and National Guard at first … but now also by the military in general. So what is the strategy of the 99% when it seriously comes down to blood in the streets? As it surely will come to that. Methinks that as the Marine Veterans have already committed to help …that a concerted effort should be made to engage all American military forces and veteran groups in the discussion, for they too are the 99% and they need to know it before they become the ‘herders’ of the 1%. Go after the military now! Engage their commitment to support OWS. After the election it will be too late.

    • Thomas Brinson says:

      I have no short-term strategies or tactics, Dudley and Leslie. I think the situation shall have to become much worse before the mostly sleeping giant of “the Silent Majority” wakes up starts taking effective action to bring about a second American Revolution “of the people, by the people, for the people”. Nevertheless, I ultimately trust the power of the human spirit for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. As happened in Vietnam, when the common soldiers, sailors and air persons, began resisting the American War in Vietnam that’s when the politicians and military ended the war. The same could happen among the military and police forces today. However, it has become much more difficult to organize among the “professional” armed forces and local police organizations, because they have their tiny piece of the pie.

  9. Susan Verry says:

    OPPS I meant to post under Michael Uhl. I hope this can be forwared to him. Sorry I’ve been on the computer too long.

  10. Suruna Satya says:

    27th, 8:22PM, What you said.
    [Your article has been posted on Care2. I left this response.]: … “We’ve been compromised on every front. If our attention is pulled in any specific direction I now suspect an attempted diversion of our attention. Seriously, whoever it was who said, “… Question Everything” had it right. I think we need to carefully watch (use as many news sources as you have time for) our global, national and regional/local news and events. Then, start pushing back from a local level. The whole damn situation is frightening and overwhelming, if we’re not focused we become trapped in appalled rigor. We must work together, and Now, or the dark case scenarios will become our reality.”

    • Thomas Brinson says:

      Thanks much, Suruna, for linking the article to Care2. Another very successful strategy of the elites is to brand and ridicule anyone who questions the “mainstream story” as a conspiracy nut. Nevertheless, ultimately I trust the human spirit to evolve in ways that eventually will bring light to the darkest of situations. It’s just that it’s going to get very dicey in the short-term.

  11. TSIndiana says:

    We have an opportunity to make a change of direction in voting for Ron Paul. Democrats and Independants will vote in the open primary states for Ron Paul, I hope. No other candidate has a plan to change the monetary system from the debt based FED and nothing short of that shift, to peace, will let America rebuild and modernise. Instead the citizens will be saddled with a yoke of enormous debt that they have no way of ever paying ….and endless war.

    I like the idea of a US Treasury Dollar that is equity, not debt (as a second US currency), equal by law to a FED Reserve Note. Forget backing it with one precious metal, it is ownership of the US assets…all of them… and accounted for. Spend it into existence for limited government in a planned government transition to peace while relieving the debt of funding government from the for-profit FED monetary system monopoly.

    The FED is no longer making decisions in my countries best interest, I believe. Only Ron Paul has consistently advocated for systemic change to the US monetary system and they are now necessary for this republic to survive.

    • Thomas Brinson says:

      See my comment above, TS — I believe many more than one politician, whether Tea Party or Progressive, shall have to manifest a movement to bring about significant systemic changes to our current system of “government’.

  12. Michael Drew Prior says:

    Ron Paul gets much praise–but consider this post. I’m no expert on the matter, if anyone can seriously critique this article, I would appreciate it.—–About Ron Paul-by Tyler Gonzo Gatsby

    I like the fact that
    he is anti-war
    wants to audit the fed
    anti-drug war
    pro privacy rights
    anti-torture
    pro-wikileaks and free speech rights
    anti CIA
    anti-corporate subsidy
    anti-bailout
    anti-Patriot Act (and thus the DHS and TSA)
    anti-Islamaphobia
    But….
    he is for the Bush tax cuts and in fact – in favor of just about all tax cuts
    he’s against socialized healthcare
    he’s against welfare, heating assistance, Headstart, PlannedParenthood assistance, food stamps and tons of services that help those who can’t find work.
    he’s against social security and medicare
    he’d close the Department of Education..
    he’d end every protection agency we have – FDA, EPA, etc.. (not that they are without problems or anything..)
    Advocates the abolition of the Civil Rights Act, which outlaws discrimination against racial minorities and women. That includes Title IX, which forbids sex-based discrimination in educational programs receiving federal aid. This act is the reason it is not feasible today to prevent black people from using the same pool as white people, or to force them to the back of the bus; this act is the reason it is not legal to discriminate in the workplace based on sex.
    Advocates the abolition of the Voting Rights Act. This act protects the voting rights of minorities; removing it would restore the state of election law to the days of Jim Crow, by making it easy to violate the 15th Amendment by imposing nonsensical voting tests designed to keep people of “the wrong color” from voting.
    Introduced a Constitutional Amendment intended to make it possible to criminalize “desecration” of the flag.
    Scapegoats illegal immigrants for budget problems and advocates ineffective and draconian measures (like that stupid border fence, which he voted for) instead of actual immigration reform.
    his anti-interventionism is so extreme he doesn’t think we should provide aid to tsunami victims, earthquake victims, victims of genocide…
    He denounces evolutionary theory in favor of creationism and he pussy foots around global warming and interjects non-scientific doubt as to how much it’s majorly a man contributed phenomenon., he uses this “doubt” as reasoning to vote against environmental regulation and wish to end the EPA?
    (Advocates against Federal protection of abortion and gay marriage laws) – he also thinks there’s a War on Christmas – which just makes me think he’s a religious nutter.
    Argued in support of the “Defense of Marriage” act.
    Describes himself as “an unshakeable foe of abortion” (as if anyone were an ally of abortion) and has attacked Roe v. Wade in the odiously-named “Sanctity of Life Act.” On the same grounds, insists that the government cannot be involved with stem-cell research. But notwithstanding the sanctity of life, the death penalty is okay, just as long as it’s a state government doing it (like Texas).
    Opposes the separation between church and state, claiming that the Founding Fathers envisioned a Christian America and that “the secularists wage an ongoing war against religion, chipping away bit by bit at our nation’s Christian heritage. Christmas itself may soon be a casualty of that war.”
    Advocates total withdrawal (both participation and funding) from the UN, NATO and the International Criminal Court, which would pretty much end these organizations and the world order which has prevailed relatively peacefully since WWII.
    Has attacked campaign finance reform intended to reduce the involvement of money in politics
    Has advocated to shield corporations from liability for cancer-causing pollution. (oh well for the free market!)
    Voted against an amendment to protect net neutrality.
    Advocates the abolition of the Seventeenth Amendment allowing people to vote for their Senators, leaving this power concentrated in the hands of state governments. Justifies the electoral college by appealing to the inferiority of the masses (relative, I guess, to enlightened guys in offices like his).
    Advocates the abolition of the Census’ American Community Survey, which is used to make informed decisions on matters like where new hospitals should be placed. I see no good reason why we should not have good, up-to-date, publicly-available data for research and policy decisions.
    HE WANTED THE UNITED STATES TO DEFAULT ON OUR LOANS.
    and a last comment here – he might be anti-subsidies, but he is also anti-government regulation of business. He’s against levying taxing businesses, he’s especially against higher taxes on wall street. His ending subsidy might do a little bit to fix some of the corruption we have in the business world, but the removal of the vast amount of taxes and regulation that are there for good .. reason would turn this nation into a 3rd world country virtually over night. You’re talking about everything from child labor laws, minimum wage, environmental protection, “money as speech”, SOX compliance, etc.. You all just don’t seem to understand Paul’s policies about taxation and how to interact with the business community make Paul Ryan look like Karl Marx.
    i vote for people i like. Not because i’m scared of the alternative.
    Have an upvote though.

    • Thomas Brinson says:

      Thanks Michael — I have many of the same difficulties supporting Paul even though on the quagmire in the Middle East Wars of Bush and Obama, the Fed, CIA, the bailouts, etc. I agree strongly with him.

Speak Your Mind

*